Hollywood was slow – snail like, even – in dealing with the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
The industry avoided the subject altogether for some time. Slowly, we saw movies like “United 93” and “World Trade Center” which dealt with that awful day without demonizing those who flew the planes into the buildings.
That was then. Later this year, movie goers will see two films which highlight the anti-Muslim bigotry which allegedly erupted after 9/11. Americans were, by and large, rather restrained in their reaction to the terrorist attacks, and the number of hate crimes perpetrated by citizens on Muslim Americans was overblown. Those facts apparently didn’t dent the passion for the following features.
This week’s Venice Film Festival screened “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” the story of a Middle Eastern man who faces discrimination in the U.S. in the weeks following 9/11. The film drew gasps from the audience for its portrayal of anti-Muslim behavior aimed at the film’s protagonist (British actor Riz Ahmed), a man who smirks briefly while watching the Towers fall.
“The Citizen” tracks a similar course, following a newly christened American citizen of Middle Eastern descent whose first legal day in this country happens to be Sept. 10, 2001. The trailer offers the standard elements – surly American agents, an innocent immigrant and snarling mobs who have nothing but enmity for Muslim Americans.